'Nuisance' red tape threat to Bendigo business.

Regulations that require six stages of approval before land is rezoned were among the issues raised in a meeting in Bendigo on Thursday between business representatives and the new red tape commissioner, Dr Matthew Butlin.

“Our members regularly tell us they are hamstrung by nuisance red tape that frustrates business on a day-to-day basis, consuming the time and resources of business owners who would prefer to focus on growing their business,” Bendigo Business Council (BBC) CEO Leah Sertori said.

“More alarming is the fact that systemic red-tape problems can lead to lost business, investment and employment opportunities.”

Included in the concerns BBC and Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) members raised with Dr Butlin was the process – and time – it takes to rezone land.

“An application to rezone land is checked six times,” Ms Sertori said. “It’s checked by local government, state government, an independent authority, the local and state governments again and then the minister. It probably needs to be checked twice.”

Potential consequences to the economy, Ms Sertori said, were a loss in confidence in Bendigo as an investment location and the shutting out of small investors seeking to develop small blocks of land.

Representatives from the health, education, hospitality, manufacturing and agricultural industries were among those who voiced their frustrations to Dr Butlin.

Another example of red tape hindrance involved chicken producer Hazeldene’s which, Sertori said, had to go through “five or six agencies” to gain a permit to expand their facilities.

The State Government only recently re-established the office of the red tape commissioner, appointing Dr Butlin to the role in September.

Dr Butlin reports findings back to Treasury.

With Bendigo’s population growing and a new hospital near, Dr Butlin said it was important to address the city’s red tape issues.

“There’s a real opportunity to improve Bendigo’s future by looking at what the right regulatory arrangements are,” he said. “There’s a mix of opportunity that may be being held back and, on the other hand, there are things that, on the face of it, seem unnecessarily difficult.

A challenge, however, is that the process of removing red tape can itself be mired in red tape, a point not lost on Dr Butlin.

“When you improve red tape, sometimes the means of doing this takes some time. “If you actually have to change a regulation or change a law, that means going through government or parliament. There are significant delays in that process.”

“(But) if I thought (my role) was paying lip service, quite frankly, I have better things to do.”